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Scientists Invent Single Lens For 3D Microscopes

What makes this lens special is that it does support 3D - while other applications require multiple lenses to achieve a similar effect. Objects viewed through the lens can be seen from nine different angles.

So far only a prototype lens with the size of a fingernail is available. It is described to look like a gem cut for a ring "with a flat top surrounded by eight facets." Other than gemstones, however, the lens is not symmetric - even if it may appear so to the naked eye. But while gemstones are cut for symmetry, this lens is slightly not symmetric, even if that fact is hard to capture with the naked eye.  “No matter which direction you look at this lens, you see a different shape,” researcher Lei Yi explained.

To build the prototype, Yi said that a commercially available milling tool was used to create the thermoplastic lens made from polymethyl mathacrylate. "The machine shaved bits of plastic from the lens in increments of 10 nanometers, or 10 billionths of a meter – a distance about 5,000 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair," a press release stated.

It is not exactly a mass-manufacturing method yet, but, of course, the goal is to develop a mass-manufacturing process for the lens. There was no information how long the development process could take.